‘Here,’ she said, ‘take my snake stick. I’ve got a few. Be careful and beat the ground like this…’ She lifted the stick and brought its stout tip to the ground –thud thud – then rustled the grasses of her camp set up.
A little earlier I’d zipped back the tent doors to reveal a rolling hill clearing in the forest, three other tents dotted in undefined camp spots, some sleepy souls emerging into the gentle morning sunlight.
One of our crew was up and about, hair dripping from a dip in the creek. Yes, a splash would be good. D-man and me headed riverwards but the drop down to the water was steep and crumbly. And fenced off.
We changed direction, walking past the home of the snake lady. She stood in denim shorts and a vest top, combing her wet, shoulder length hair whilst two big dogs slobbered around her set-up of tents, tarps and tables.
‘You can go down that way, she said, pointing back to where we’d come from. ‘You’re definitely going in the water that way, it’s steep and slippy… and watch out for the snakes. But it’s so good, it feels so… When one of my friends was visiting he went in that way and… slipped… pulled me in…’ She launched into a story, hairbrush suspended.
‘Or there is another way along… there’s a path,’ she said, pointing towards the logging road, ‘it takes you to a pooled area but the grasses are high on the way down and it’s snake season and you have to watch out for…’
I got it. Snakes. The very part of Australian wildlife that I had yet to encounter and hoped to avoid for the foreseeable future. We took the snake stick and beat our way down to the water’s edge. Not a snake in sight.
‘I’ve been here more than three weeks,’ she said when we stopped by to return the stick, ‘the dogs have an area, I have my tent. It’s beautiful. You staying for a while?’
‘Nah, we’re heading today.’
‘Live life… go hard… today… it might be your last!’ she called out after us as we walked back to our camp.
Breakfast, coffee, refuel. Tents down, wave bye to the snake woman, now wearing a little make-up and a tight ponytail, marching up the road with her dogs on their leads. Drink in the sunlight streaking down through tall trees, judder back along five kilometres of dry dirt tracks, join back up with the Wide Bay Highway.
Head east, hit Brucey HIghway . Head north.
The journey continues.
- Road Trip! Heading up through Queensland, Australia (travelola.org)
- Roadtrip Day 1: The issue of not being on time (travelola.org)
- Snake, the most misunderstood of animals (rightways.wordpress.com)
- Charming Snakes (micajewelsnyc.wordpress.com)